Columbia University, No Harmony with Surroundings
Morningside Campus is Inwardly Structured
Columbia’s Morningside Campus in its current form doesn’t harmonize well with surroundings; it gives its back to the neighborhood, it looks inward only. If Broadway and Amsterdam Ave are rivers bounding Columbia’s campus, the institution progressively walled and contained them, placing them out of sight.
The original campus master plan was by firm McKim, Mead & White, whose architect and partner Charles Follen McKim designed other sites of National transcendence (consider the Boston Public Library and New York’s original Penn Station). Can you see him committing this negligence-of-future?
Grounds around campus were originally empty, but imagining a dense and dully urbanized Manhattan shouldn’t have been radical. Even after accounting for campus safety, his design must’ve dedicated open space between Low’s Library and Teacher’s College to harmonize with 121 St between Amsterdam and Broadway. Original master plan must’ve suffered addenda and extensions that threw the place out of harmony with Morningside to the West and Harlem to the North and the East.
Roads to Nowhere
Right in the middle of the main campus, North to South, there is a beautiful walkway. It connects space East to West from Broadway to Amsterdam and features red brick surface, limestone benches, classical and modern sculptures, and academic buildings in beaux-arts style surrounded by majestic trees — very pleasant.
Sadly, the road leads nowhere on both ends. Columbia’s main campus happens to be a good 10 meters (~36 feet) over both Amsterdam and Broadway. Imagine if the walkway connected to the world outside.